LAND 400 PHASE 2 – LAND COMBAT VEHICLE SYSTEM (LCVS) – Part 3

The Defence Ministers announced in a press release coinciding with the release of the Defence White Paper 2013 “Army’s existing armoured units will undergo significant changes and be designated as Armoured Cavalry Regiments.

17th Jun 2013


 

 LAND 400


LAND 400 PHASE 2 – LAND COMBAT VEHICLE SYSTEM (LCVS) – Part 3

Byline: Geoff Slocombe / / Victoria

The Defence Ministers announced in a press release coinciding with the release of the Defence White Paper 2013 “Army’s existing armoured units will undergo significant changes and be designated as Armoured Cavalry Regiments. An Armoured Cavalry Regiment will be established in each of Army’s combat Brigades to ensure that they can operate as combined arms teams against the threats anticipated in the future.

“This will see, over time, the balanced re-distribution of Army’s armoured vehicle fleets to the multi-role combat brigades. Light Armoured Reconnaissance vehicles (ASLAV) and Armoured Personnel Carriers (M113AS4) will be integral to the three brigades. Trials are currently being conducted to examine the efficiency and suitability of placing Abrams tank (sic) in each Armoured Cavalry Regiment. While this will not increase the number of armoured vehicles in Army, the Light Armoured Vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carriers will be replaced over time as part of the Government’s commitment to project Land 400, Army’s future combat vehicle project.”

DEFENCE WHITE PAPER (DWP) 2013

Overall, the DWP is understandably long on intent and short on specifics. With respect to LCVS, DWP Paragraph 8.68 states “In response to the increasing complexity and lethality of land operations, the Government is committed to acquiring deployable protected and armoured vehicles offering improved firepower, protection and mobility compared to existing systems. This will include new medium and heavy trucks to replace Army’s existing ageing fleet. It will also include the replacement of Army’s armoured vehicles and associated fighting systems to equip each armoured combat regiment in Army’s three multi-role combat brigades, based in Darwin, Townsville and Brisbane.”

The Defence Ministers also stated at the DWP release that “The Defence White Paper further strengthens the Government’s commitment to our defence industry – with a focus on closer connections between strategic policy directions and defence policy for industry, and enhancing innovation, building competitiveness, and developing skills.”

This would have been good news for the Australian Industry Group Defence Council whose March 2013 submission to the 2013 DWP Working Party included this statement “The outlook for sustained fiscal constraint means that all aspects of achieving defence capability and sustainment should be open to challenge and innovation, both within industry and Defence itself. In these difficult economic times, it is appropriate to examine ways in which industry can be involved with Defence to bring about more efficient and predictable ways of doing business.”

The DWP promised that a new Defence Industry Policy Statement will be issued during 2013. APDR expects this to emerge during the third quarter.

INTERNATIONAL TRENDS

LAND 400 Phase 2 is looking beyond current fleets to upgrade capability. Depending on identified priorities, current fleets will be replaced based on the capability requirement, rather than platform replacement.

New Zealand’s NZLAV fleet is derived from the Canadian Forces LAVIII Armoured Personnel Carrier, with greater payload and higher levels of protection than the ASLAV, which was procured against a requirement to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance in northern Australia, in a year prior to the LAVIII. The NZDF are currently reconfiguring some of their 105 NZLAV’s by removing turrets, but are not planning their mid-life system upgrades until 2016-2020.

Canadian Forces have announced plans to procure the next generation of land combat vehicles. In the meantime they will upgrade 550 current vehicles of their GDLS LAV III fleet in a billion dollar program, announced in 2011, stating:

“The recent experiences of the Canadian Armed Forces and our allies in Afghanistan and other operational theatres continue to demonstrate the ongoing requirement for a highly protected, yet highly mobile Light-Armoured Vehicle. The use of mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and anti-armour weapons has become more prevalent, posing a greater risk to personnel.

“The LAV III Upgrade project will capitalize on existing and evolving technology to improve the protection, mobility and lethality of the LAV III fleet. The project will modernize a portion of the existing LAV III fleet to ensure it remains a highly protected, operationally mobile and tactically agile combat vehicle that will remain the backbone of domestic and expeditionary task forces, extending the life span of the LAV III to 2035.”

The US Army’s Stryker is a further development of the LAV III, with significantly higher levels of protection based on continuous improvement through the experience and operational analysis of combat, and engagement with industry, to engineer timely survivability solutions.

A Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) is being developed by the US Army to be relevant across the entire spectrum of Army operations, and to incorporate combat lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army reissued a request for proposal (RFP) for the GCV on November 2010, and plans to begin fielding the GCV by 2015-2017. In mid-2011, the GCV program was approved to enter the Technology Development Phase of the acquisition process, and immediately the Army awarded two technology development contracts: $US 439.7 million to the General Dynamics-led team and a second contract for $US 449.9 million to the BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman team.

BAE Systems advised APDR that they have two systems currently under development for the US - the Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) and the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV).

The AMPV is the US Army replacement for M113 vehicles for five Armoured Brigade Combat Team mission roles. The BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman’s GCV is a brand-new design, which incorporates their team’s experience and history with the Bradley.

At the start of 2013, the Department of Defense (DOD) initiated a series of major GCV program changes which, while slipping the program schedule to the right and going to a single competitor during Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD), could save over $US 4 billion from FY2014 to FY2019. Competitors will be allowed back in after the EMD phase.

The UK's Future Rapid Effects System – Specialist Variant (FRES-SV) is to meet the British Army's long-term need for new medium-weight armoured fighting vehicles and will be deployed on rapid intervention, enduring peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations and support to high intensity, major combat operations.

Potential reconnaissance vehicles put forward were the BAE Hagglunds CV90, offered by BAE Systems, and the ASCOD SV, offered by General Dynamics UK.

In March 2010, the MoD announced that General Dynamics UK had been awarded a development contract to build the FRES-SV, with trials to start in 2013.

As a result of NATO experiences in Afghanistan, continental European countries have been rethinking land combat armoured vehicles systems and how they will interoperate in US dominated coalitions, together with the introduction into service, integrated logistics, and through life support systems required.

German armoured vehicle manufacturers, in particular, have been active in designing and building platforms and identifying support systems to meet their prospective customers’ requirements. The ARTEC GmbH group, consisting of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall Landsysteme from Germany, and Stork of the Netherlands, have developed the BOXER Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV) for projects like LAND 400 Phase 2 LCVS. As a separate PSM consortium, KMW and Rheinmetall Landsysteme are developing the PUMA family of light armoured vehicles.

Other European companies have light armoured platforms and support systems, tested operationally. For a small country, Finland has been very active in the design and development of armoured land combat vehicles. The Patria AMV (armoured modular vehicle) was developed by the Finnish company Patria Vehicles in close cooperation with the Finnish Defence Forces. It is in serial production and over 200 vehicles have been delivered, having been selected by Croatia, Finland, Poland, Slovenia and South Africa. France’s Nexter have their VBCI vehicle, and the Iveco - Oto Melara Consortium (CIO), intend to offer its Centauro family of vehicles for the Land 400 LCVS program.

Israel’s Defense Ministry has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a contract to build 600 NAMER (leopard in Hebrew) armoured personnel carriers (APC) over the next eight years. Although highly capable, these may be too heavy for ADF operations requiring air portability in numbers.

SUB-SYSTEMS FOR LCVS

The LCVS will be a complete system, obviously made up from the platform plus a number of sub-systems, which require different levels of integration. For example, carriage integration of items like direct fire support weapons and ammunition means those systems must be de-conflicted from the LCVS’s operation or operation of other carried systems. By contrast interaction integration, for example of a fire suppression system, means limited coordination between systems.

Interoperation integration of, for example, a remote weapons system, creates the ability to collaborate between systems and adjust the feedback mechanisms. Straightforward integration, for example of a Battle Management System, requires coherent integration of systems and full integration into the LCVS.

There will be a requirement for the IPT to investigate and evaluate sub-systems for LCVS which are common to all variants. The challenge here is not only to identify items for initial acquisition, but also evaluate modern TLS policies and processes for integrated logistics, engineering management, obsolescence management, future technology capability upgrade potential and fleet management.

The IPT needs to identify Strategic Industry Capabilities (SIC) and Priority Industry Capabilities (PIC) in Australia’s defence industry which could deliver sub-systems which typically include power train; running gear; suspension; tyre inflation; brakes; air conditioning including protection against air borne chemical, biological and radiological hazards; fuel; electrical units and wiring; passive protection (armour) against various kinetic weapons; protection against chemical energy anti-armour weapons; a crew and passenger intercom; sat nav system providing location, heading, distance travelled, and range and bearing to one or more designated points; computer and communications systems that are compatible with common tactical radios; onboard situational awareness system for rapid exchange of battlefield information with command and other vehicles; and protection against vehicle-induced electromagnetic interference.

The vehicles should be stealthy with low radar and thermal signatures.

Depending on a thorough analysis on the types of threats to be faced in possible missions, pre-planned countermeasure sub-systems could be required to defeat active infrared; laser designators; millimetre wave radar; proximity fuse munitions and IEDs; and anti-armour guided missiles. Smoke-grenade launchers could be incorporated.

The LCVS will deliver a number of variants for specific purposes. Some of these variants will be for command; ambulance; recovery; fitters; troop transport; surveillance and reconnaissance. Each of these variants will need specialised sub-systems, to be identified by the IPT.

AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY OPPORTUNITIES

One of the continuing problems for defence contractors working towards bidding for projects like LAND 400 Phase 2 is the lack of genuine engagement and transparency about scheduling and resultant timelines with project milestones. When these are decided by higher Defence committee processes and target dates, such as that for First Approval, are set, they should be advised to the RFI respondents in order to assist their ability to plan and respond.

Many potential suppliers do not have active production lines and supply chains into Australia, so what may be proposed by these potential suppliers may not actually be achievable in a different timeframe. Therefore proposals (and projects) are high risk from such suppliers, lower risk for international prime contractors already involved in Australia.

There is a powerful argument to be made in applying obsolescence, capability, configuration and fleet management policy to the current in-service fleets so that the introduction of any LAND 400 fleet is a transition rather than a step up. Thinking that the current fleets are legacy vehicles, and therefore unworthy of investment, ignores the reality that these fleets represent today’s and tomorrow’s operational capability for a long while yet.

In the meantime investment, particularly in the sustainment of ASLAV, M113 and Bushmaster capability, provides risk mitigation against any capability deficiency, and provides a capability bridge to LAND 400.

The ADF’s ASLAV is based on the General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) LAV II from Canada, but Australianised with locally designed Mission Role Installation Kits (MRIK), enabling a diverse range of variants on common platforms. Spare MRIKs provide a commander with the flexibility to mix and match mission roles depending on the task.

The present light armoured fleet comprises tracked M113 APCs and wheeled ASLAVs. A study of operational roles and how to sustain them, and upgrade capability of these vehicle fleets, should have a high priority. The most recent M113-AS4 upgrades were finally completed in October 2012 by the BAE Systems Australia production line at Wingfield in South Australia. ASLAV sustainment and capability upgrades are available as low risk packets of capability as most are currently in service or in production with other LAV users. See above in the International Trends section for details on the Canadian LAV III Upgrade Project.

Compliance with the DCP initiatives for ASLAV would have addressed the current capability gap until an APC/IFV capability could be realised within schedule of LAND 400 (2027). The Cavalry capability could then be replaced.

Despite General Dynamics Land Systems manufacturing and exporting LAV-25 turrets from Australia to the US since 2001, and Thales having built over 800 Bushmasters in Bendigo, the 2012 DCP highlighted Australian industry opportunities as mainly in the acquisition and sustainment phases of the project.

The DCP states “In the acquisition phase, local industry opportunities will depend on the acquisition options presented by industry, including their cost, schedule and technical risks which will be assessed in light of the strategic nature of the LCVS capability.

“Notwithstanding, Australian industry will be expected to support the delivery of the required capability, in particular sub-systems and system of systems engineering and integration, simulation, facilities and integrated logistics support (ILS).

“Through Life Support (TLS) for this project is planned for fleet management, repair and maintenance, storage and distribution, provision of technical data, and training including simulation support as a minimum.

“TLS services are expected to be Australian based to the maximum extent that can be achieved.

“Ongoing in-country development of the LCVS platforms in order to maintain operational relevance of the capability is also anticipated. The support concept will also take advantage of current in-service capacity and facilities, or OEM support, or a combination of both. Contracts for support are planned to be considered at the same time as acquisition.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

The LAND 400 Phase 2 Integrated Project Team (IPT) is preparing its submission for First Pass Approval. A spokesperson for the IPT told APDR “We will consider all offers that meet the specifications stated in the RFT to be released after Government First Pass consideration.”

This will create teaming openings for the local defence industry, since it is Defence’s intention that they become fully involved with project delivery, training and ongoing support.

When the new 2013 Defence Capability Plan (DCP) emerges there will be clearer information on any new program schedule and expectations for industry opportunities by Defence.

As Army’s largest current project, and a critical enabler of Plan BEERSHEBA, this is a project where Army, DMO, DSTO and the defence industry must plan and work together effectively. Army has two staff members embedded within the LAND 400 IPT to ensure that coordination is achieved between LAND 400, Plan BEERSHEBA and the Army modernisation process.

Anything less will not do justice to the ADF’s personnel placed in harm’s way.


 

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